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review 2014-01-07 00:40
Two stories in one: a mystery, a contemporary and a lot of 1830’s medical detail
The Bone Garden - Tess Gerritsen

Opening line: So this is how a marriage ends, thought Julia Hamill as she rammed the shovel into the soil.”

 This was a very good read although not quite what I was expecting. The Bone Garden is two stories woven into one; starting with Julie Hamill in present day who has just purchased a new (old) house in Boston following her divorce. While attempting to dig a garden she makes a horrifying discovery –a human skull. According to medical examiner Maura Isles (who only has a cameo in this book) the skull is very old, belongs to a woman and has the unmistakable marks of murder. This information sends Julia on a quest to find the story behind her death and sends the reader back to the 1830’s and the hunt for the West End Reaper.

Back in 1830 we follow Rose Connelly, a poor Irish immigrant trying to care for her newly orphaned niece and Norris Marshal, a struggling medical student. Their paths intersect at a teaching hospital as Rose’s sister lies dying from childbed fever and then again later when Rose witnesses a murder and Norris unwittingly becomes the chief suspect after he stumbles across the latest victim. Together they join forces to solve the murders and protect the baby which seems to be at the heart of the mystery.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, setting things up in both timelines and Gerritsen plays with the reader by ending each section on a bit of a cliff-hanger, forcing you to keep turning the pages. There are many well developed secondary characters in both time lines including a resurrectionist (grave robber) who digs up corpses from graveyards for sale on the black market (worth 25$ and totally gruesome) Speaking of which, Gerritsen goes into graphic 1830’s medical detail here, I mean I learned everything I didn’t want to know about childbed fever and how to amputate an arm. And you will be shaking your head (and shuddering) as the simple concept of washing your hands didn’t exist. Imagine the consequences of handling diseased corpses and then going from bed to bed checking pregnant woman!

In modern Boston Julia teams up with Henry, an ornery 89 year old with a cellar full of wine and boxes of documents and personal letters belonging to the previous owner of her house, all dating back to the time of the murders. -Henry was one of my favourite characters in the book. We also see the spark of a romance beginning with her cute dog walking neighbor.

As the book progressed we spent more and more time in 1830 until those sections took over completely. I actually would have preferred a more balanced split between the two as modern day Julia was left a little vague and honestly I was ready for the olden day mystery to wrap up long before it did. The attention to the detail of that time is astonishing, especially the medical stuff and the brutality of living in a Boston slum.

Gerritsen‘s writing is always topnotch, with persistent suspense, a touch of romance, well developed characters, attention to detail and as usual she puts her medical training to chilling good use. Cheers.

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review 2013-11-21 01:11
"THE WOMAN" -great introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

  Opening line: “To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.”


Well this was a surprise; the classics and especially mysteries are not my usual fare but due to my recent obsession with the BBC series Sherlock (How yummy is Benedict Cumberbatch) and then watching Downey and Jude Law in the movie Game Of Shadows I realized that I had never actually read any of Conan Doyle’s stories. After some research trying to figure out where to begin, I eventually bought The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes  and settled on this story. And wow, I didn’t expect to enjoy this half as much as I did (or at all for that matter) but I guess this is why Sherlock Holmes is still relatable today.

 
I’d initially expected to have to put in considerable effort just to get through this, I mean it was written in 1892 so it was bound to be very, well, literary. You know all formal and tedious. In fact I’d anticipated needing a dictionary just to be able to understand what the characters were talking about, but to my surprise A Scandal In Bohemia turned out to be an absolute delight to read. The actual story is quite basic yet also filled with complexities and hidden meanings and I would also have to call this a romance -of sorts. It’s also funny, relevant, cunning, witty, romantic and ultimately sad. What a great introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes.


Told from Dr. Watsons POV (now that I didn’t know -I’d just assumed these were Sherlock’s stories.) We begin with Watson “dropping by” Baker Street to visit Holmes. He hasn’t been by his old residence or seen Holmes of late due to his recent marriage and the two have drifted apart. I guess you could say he feels nervous about visiting because he never really knows what state Holmes will be in; elated, depressed, manic, high on opium or cocaine or in some clever disguise? It’s always a bit of a crap shoot. In any case he appears happy today and also excited due to the prospect of a new and exciting case. Sherlock then asks if Watson will assist him...


“I shall be delighted”

“You don’t mind breaking the law?”

“Not in the least.”

“Nor running a chance of arrest?”

“Not in good cause.”

“Oh the cause is excellent.”

“Then I am your man.”

“I was sure that I could rely on you.”

     
The client turns out to be the King of Bohemia; he requires Holmes’ assistance in obtaining an incriminating photograph of himself and one Irene Adler before he marries. It seems this past affair would ruin him because of her “station.” So far the King has tried unsuccessfully to buy it (she won’t sell) to bribe her servants and finally even to steal it but Ms. Adler is always one step ahead. Holmes dons several disguises throughout his case, first as a groomsman to gain access to Adler’s property and spy on her and then later as an (injured) clergyman. Irene Adler is a fantastic character, gaining the upper hand and in the end even outsmarting Holmes. I suppose it’s her cleverness that causes Holmes to fall for her and why in the end she becomes known only as the woman. Cheers 305jb5                                                            

                                                                         

                  

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